Enabling people to experience Early Music directly and emotionally – this is the goal that the vocal ensemble Voces Suaves has set itself. With expressive interpretations and a rich, warm sound, the young singers have established themselves as a leading period performance ensemble, breathing new life into Renaissance and Baroque works alike. Among other venues, at the Laeiszhalle in Hamburg, where Voces Suaves assembled on the concert hall’s atmospherically-lit historic attic for a performance of the touching Monteverdi madrigal »O come è gran martire« (Ah, what great suffering).
»The twelve singers present truly ›soft voices‹ (voces suaves), for the most part slender and without much vibrato.«
… the concerts in the »Das Alte Werk« series. Definitely worth trying!
The ensemble founded by baritone Tobias Wicky in 2012 is based in Basel, and consists of eight professional singers who met each other at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis – one of the most prestigious training centres for Early Music and historic performing practice. The members of the ensemble have been working without a permanent conductor since 2016, and develop their programmes jointly. This gives a share of the artistic responsibility to each individual member. The line-up varies from programme to programme.
The Voces Suaves repertoire covers Italian madrigals, German works of the Early Baroque period, and oratorios and Masses for a larger ensemble. When developing their concert programmes, the ensemble makes sure to include music by composers now forgotten as well as works of well-known masters like Monteverdi and Schütz.
Christina Boner soprano
Mirjam Wernli soprano
Anne Bierwirth alto
Tobias Wicky baritone
Davide Benetti bass
Christoph Schulz Sound mixer
Ole Schmetzer Lighting technician
Kianosh Hinz Lighting assistant
Max Weidling Laser Operator
Gert Seggewiss Camera assistant
Jasper Techel Camera
Philipp Seliger Production
The music :Claudio Monteverdi: O come è gran martire (1592)
Claudio Monteverdi (1567–1643) was one of the most prominent representatives of Renaissance music. In his polyphonic madrigals, the secular counterpart to the motet, he experimented untiringly with new stylistic devices. His idea of placing the song text at the centre of the music was nothing short of revolutionary at the time: Monteverdi interpreted the content and the emotions of the text with dramatic musical devices such as sudden discords or rapid runs, which the traditional principles of composition forbade. His highly expressive music overwhelmed contemporary listeners, with some people allegedly fainting when they heard it.
In 1592, before Monteverdi introduced this method, known as »seconda pratica«, in the preface to his Fifth Book of Madrigals (1605), he published »O come è gran martire« (Ah, what great suffering!), an ardent love madrigal which already gives an indication of his bold creative will.
For over 100 years, the Laeiszhalle was Hamburg’s first address for classical music. The concert hall was opened in 1908, and it wasn’t long before composers like Richard Strauss, and Sergei Prokofiev, Igor Stravinsky and Paul Hindemith were conducting their own works here. The audience had the chance to hear budding world stars in epoch-making concerts such as the 12-year-old Yehudi Menuhin or the young Vladimir Horowitz, as well as legends like Maria Callas. But few people have got to see the Laeiszhalle’s historic attic. Equipped with lasers and extensive lighting, this is a place with a mystic air – ideal for the Elbphilharmonie Session with Voces Suaves and the captivating music of Monteverdi.
About the series
Artists record exclusive music videos at the Elbphilharmonie and the Laeiszhalle for Elbphilharmonie Sessions – sometimes in unusual locations offstage. Discover the concert halls from the inside. Discover what they sound like.